Radio Station Stands by Royal Prank Callers After Tragic Suicide
Although DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian have gone off the air after news that nurse who took their prank call at Kate Middleton's hospital had died in a suspected suicide, the radio station is not firing them.
According to the Daily Mail, Rhys Holleran, the chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns the station, said that Greig and Christian were “completely shattered” by the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha in the wake of the prank.
Earlier this week, the 2DayFM DJs had called the London hospital where Middleton was convalescing from acute morning sickness and posed as the Queen and Prince Charles to obtain information. Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, was the nurse who passed the call through. Her body was found Friday near the King Edward VII Hospital.
Holleran said at a press conference in Melbourne, “I spoke to both presenters early this morning and it's fair to say they are completely shattered. These people aren't machines, they're human beings. What happened is incredibly tragic and we're deeply saddened and we're incredibly affected by that.”
He added, “I think prank calls as a craft in radio have been going for decades and decades and are not just part of one radio station or network or country. No-one could have reasonably foreseen what ended up being an incredibly tragic day.”
Holleran also said stunts like these are “done collaboratively.” A source confirmed that 2DayFM's lawyers had listened to audio of the entire call and had given it clearance to go to air.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which regulates radio broadcasting, has said it is currently in the process of discussing the matter with the Sydney-based station.
Meanwhile, a letter was released from Lord Glenarthur, Chairman of King Edward VII's Hospital, asking the radio station to ensure this never happens again. “I am writing to protest in the strongest possible terms about the hoax call made from your radio station, 2DayFM, to this hospital last Tuesday. King Edward VII's Hospital cares for sick people, and it was extremely foolish of your presenters even to consider trying to lie their way through to one of our patients, let alone actually make the call. Then to discover that, not only had this happened, but that the call had been pre-recorded and the decision to transmit approved by your station's management, was truly appalling. The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients. The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words. I appreciate that you cannot undo the damage which has been done but I would urge you to take steps to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated.”